Watching 1939: Blondie Brings Up Baby (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film:  Blondie Brings Up Baby (1939)

Release date:  Nov. 8, 1939

Cast:  Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake, Larry Simms, Jonathan Hale, Danny Mummert, Daisy the Dog, Peggy Ann Garner, Robert Middlemass, Olin Howland, Fay Helm, Roy Gordon, Grace Stafford, Helen Jerome Eddy, Irving Bacon, Bruce Bennett (uncredited), Willie Best (uncredited), Robert Sterling (uncredited), Ian Wolfe (uncredited)

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Director:  Frank R. Strayer

Plot:
A traveling salesman (Howland) convinces Blondie (Singleton) that Baby Dumpling is a genius after he takes a test. Blondie and Dagwood (Lake) immediately enroll him in school. Meanwhile, at the office, Dagwood flubs a deal when he changes the architecture of an apartment building his company is designing.

1939 Notes:
• The fourth Blondie film of the 28 film series from 1938 to 1950.
• One of two films Peggy Ann Garner made in 1939. The other was “In Name Only.” It was Garner’s third film.
• Three Blondie films were released in 1939.

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
“Blondie Brings Up Baby” is the last of three Blondie films released in 1939. But these three were just a drop in the bucket of the 28 films made based on the Blondie comic strips.

In “Blondie Brings Up Baby,” the plot seems that it would revolve around Baby Dumpling being declared a genius, but the plot shifts to losing Daisy while Baby Dumpling is at school and the genius plot is lost. A smattering also focuses on Dagwood losing his job.

Dagwood’s boss Mr. Ditfor hers always gets mad at Dagwood because he’s not very smart. But let’s face it, Mr. Dithers should take responsibility for hiring such a knucklehead.

The plot and comedy are no different than the other films in the series, however, this film has a special appearance from an actor – future star Peggy Ann Garner.

Just in her third film, Garner plays a little girl who is wheelchairbound after an illness. She is given Daisy the Dog and then she and Baby Dumpling play together. Rather than being goofy, Garner’s scenes were rather sweet because then she walks again.

I think “Blondie Brings Up Baby” may be a little better than others because it’s more focused on the children rather than the adults. Outside of the storyline, Peggy Ann Garner is the bright spot of this short film, even though the film is short.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

 

Advertisements

Watching 1939: Blondie Takes a Vacation (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult.

1939 film: Blondie Takes a Vacation (1939)

Release date: July 20, 1939

Cast: Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake, Larry Simms, Danny Mummert, Daisy the Dog, Donald Meek, Donald MacBride, Thomas W. Ross, Elizabeth Dunne, Robert Wilcox, Harlan Briggs, Irving Bacon, Milton Kibbee (uncredited)

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Director: Frank R. Strayer

Plot:
After originally missing their vacation, Blondie (Singleton), Dagwood (Lake) and Baby Dumpling (Simms) head to the mountains on vacation and meet a series of issues. After their reservations are canceled at their first hotel, they end up as the only guests at a mountain resort whose business is failing. The family helps get the resort back up on its feet, making their trip more work than a vacation.

1939 Notes:
• The third Blondie film of the 28 film series from 1938 to 1950.
• Three Blondie films were released in 1939: Blondie Meets the Boss, Blondie Takes a Vacation, Blondie Brings Up Baby

Other trivia:
• Harry Davenport was originally going to co-star in this film but had to drop out due to his role in “Gone with the Wind” (1939), according to the Hollywood Reporter.
• Filmed at Cedar Lake and Big Bear in California

Larry Simms, Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake in “Blondie Takes a Vacation”

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
The Blondie comic strip was re-created as a radio show and then a film series.

The film series, starring Arthur Lake, Penny Singleton and Larry Simms, had 28 films, and three of those were released in 1939: Blondie Meets the Boss, Blondie Takes a Vacation, and Blondie Brings up Baby.

“Blondie Takes a Vacation” is the usual mad-cap story with Blondie (played by Penny Singleton) putting up with Dagwood (played by Arthur Lake) being a knucklehead. Larry Simms as Baby Dumpling probably has the most sense of anyone in the family.

While “Blondie Meets the Boss” had some painful moments, “Blondie Takes a Vacation” is better. There are some slapstick moments that are predictable, like Baby Dumpling thinking he finds a “kitty,” but it’s a skunk. Or a vacuum bag swelling up like a balloon and floating to the ceiling. But I like this one because it puts the family in a different setting – on vacation.

The family goes to the mountains on the vacation that they were denied in the last film (“Blondie Meets the Boss”). But things, of course, run afoul. On the train to vacation, they irritate a man sitting near them (Donald MacBride) who happens to own the resort they are going to. When he sees the family enter, he kicks them out and refuses to house them. The family finds a nearby hotel, which is nice but failing because of the other resort. Rather than resting during their vacation, Blondie and Dagwood spend their trip working to help the elderly couple make their hotel a success.

This series of films can be tiresome to me, but these serial films were generally cheap to make and did alright in theaters. There were 28 blondie films in all. This one is more interesting because they are out of their home and also helping others.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

 

Watching 1939: Blondie Meets the Boss

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film:  Blondie Meets the Boss

Release date:  March 8, 1939

Cast:  Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake, Larry Simms, Danny Mummert, Jonathan Hale, Daisy the Dog, Dorothy Moore, Inez Courtney, Joel Dean, Dorothy Comingore, Stanley Brown, Don Beddoe

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Director:  Frank R. Strayer

Plot:
Blondie (Singleton) and Dagwood (Lake) are ready to go on vacation with their Baby Dumpling (Simms). The day they leave, Dagwood’s boss Mr. Dithers (Hale) said he has to go out of town on urgent business and needs Dagwood to stay and work and cancel his vacation. Outrage, Dagwood resigns. Blondie begs Mr. Dithers for Dagwood’s job. Dithers strikes a deal with Blondie: she works in Dagwood’s place while he is on the business trip.

Continue reading